The Sciences

Global Warming, the Tea Party, and Unwavering Certainty

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneySep 9, 2011 1:16 PM

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With such an amazing guest post on Wednesday, I didn't get to post my own DeSmogBlog piece (which is actually related to, but far less consequential than, Andrea Kuszewski's). So I thought I would do it now. Basically, the piece looks at new data showing that Tea Partiers are considerably worse than mainline Republicans in their rejection of global warming. What I find most disturbing about this is the level of certainty among Tea Party members that they're right--e.g., the people who are most wrong are most sure of themselves. Once again, reminds me of Yeats:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.

Yeats thought this state of affairs signaled the Second Coming was at hand. Unfortunately, I think it's part of human nature and will be with us as long as we're on this rock. Anyway, more specifically with regard to Tea Partiers' certainty:

“Tea Party members are much more likely to say that they are ‘very well informed’ about global warming than the other groups," according to the Yale study. "Likewise, they are also much more likely to say they ‘do not need any more information’ about global warming to make up their mind.”

What do we make of this? Why would this be? Here's my attempt to answer:

Well, the study also shows that Tea Partiers are more likely than other Republicans to be “born again” Christians and to doubt evolution, and highly individualistic and anti-egalitarian in their moral values. In short, what we appear to be seeing in them is a kind of merger of right wing free market views on the one hand, and the unwavering certainty associated with certain forms of fundamentalist religion on the other. They know they’re right, they know that liberals and scientists—and most of all, President Obama—are wrong, and there is no swaying them in that. (There is also some reason to think that Tea Party members are authoritarian in their outlook, wanting to impose various types of Christian views in government.) When you merge this with previous data on white male conservatives and climate change, it becomes apparent that the person least likely to change his mind on this issue and accept the science is a 1) white 2) male 3) conservative 4) Tea Party American.

You can read the full DeSmogBlog item here.

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